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tv   [untitled]    March 17, 2012 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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bruce's diary catches a little bit of it. as they're driving through paris, he said it was impossible to refuse the gifts thrust upon us. in the course of the afternoon we had beer, cider, white and red bordeaux, champagne, rum, whiskey, cognac. and i hope they were -- i hope they were still mission capable after doing all this. on the next day, bruce and hemingway liberate the ritz hotel. they go into the bar. by this time, the entourage is quite large and bruce orders 50 martinis. which gets served up to everybody in the group and bruce writes in his diary, he says, you know, they weren't really very good. talk about that kind of, you know, the virginia aristocrat,
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only the best for him. but he's fair and he says, you know, we stayed for dinner and dinner was really, really good. there were about 12 people who stayed for dinner including ernest. they signed the menu. we think we took paris, and then the 12 people at the table signed up. so this is pretty much the end of the story of ernest and american intelligence in world war ii. he spends the rest of the war, he spends a lot of time in the ritz. he goes over to the hotel screeb nearby and this is a fanciful portrayal. that's ernest in the foreground. the guy with the patch is william l. shirer and the lady is janet flaner who work for the new yorker for many years.
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apart from being in paris and doing the correspondent thing, he does get out to the front and spends -- he exposes himself to a considerable amount of danger as a war correspondent. as the american troops are going towards and entering germany. around this time, bumby, his luck ran out in the fall of 1944. he was captured. he talks with oss about a possible mission to liberate bumby. wiser heads prevail. it's not attempted. it probably would have been disastrous. after the battle of the bulge, he goes home without martha and here he is arriving home on the pan am airplane. that's not the end of the story. there's been another window open the whole time. there's a reason i said this was the end of ernest's relationship
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with american intelligence in world war ii. he had a relationship with another intelligence organization, starting in 1941, and that was the kgb. according to transcripts of kgb files that have been published by yale university press in 2009, ernest was pitched in early 1941, probably in new york city, probably in january, by a man named jacob golos, and he wrote back to moscow that he had recruited ernest hemingway as a soviet spy, and that ernest had agreed to cooperate for ideological reasons. he added that ernest had accepted contact instructions for the next clandestine meeting. as far as i can tell from the
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traffic, these were material contact instructions. probably something like a jell-o box that had been cut in a certain pattern. the person who you were meeting would have the other half and that's how you know you have the right person. how could this be? i'm a life-long hemingway fan. and i found this out more or less by accident. what i like to do when i'm doing research i like to kind of troll in the waters next to the ones that i'm fishing. i thought what the hell, let's see what kgb was up to in the united states around this time. so i went and looked at this book and i went, holy moly, ernest hemingway it says here ernest hemingway was a russian spy. and, you know, people who like a -- a lot of people who like hemingway like him for good red blooded american reasons. you like hemingway in part
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because he's a man who writes about telling the truth, telling it like it really is. that's not what spies do. especially spies who work for another country. so there's also -- another thing that makes it hard to believe that ernest would have accepted this pitch is that even though he had many friends on the left, he always said he admired them as individuals. he did not necessarily admire their beliefs. he himself throughout most of his life claimed to be apolitical. he said explicitly that he did not like quote the ideology boys and he said explicitly i could never be a communist. so i go what's going on here? how do we break this down? how do we understand it? the first thing did was look at how the documents got here. it's kind of an interesting
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story. it goes back to paris troika. the end of the cold war. the opening in russia. some people in the kgb go, hey, need to get on this bandwagon. we need to tell our story too and maybe we can make a few bucks at the same time and contribute it to the retirement kgb guy. he's working as a journalist, okay, we want you to work on american espionage, during world war ii and during the cold war. and then we'll take a look at it once you get it written, we'll let you know, okay, you know, this part, you can publish. that part. we don't want you to publish. he's the guy who stumbles. he stumbles on ernest's file. that's not what he's looking for, but he comes across this file summary. it really -- it's -- you know, you can imagine the junior officer being told, okay, we
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want you to read it and write this summary so we don't have to go through it all. that's one of the things he's copied out verbatim which is a summary of what ernest did for or didn't do for the kgb. so i also checked, you know, e the -- who's been working on the collections? this is quite a bit afield from what i normally do, and, you know, these are really solid guys. at the library of congress. there's another long-time expe and it's generally accepted that vasilef did a good job of copying what he saw in the files which he eventually brought out west as theind -- as the winds change, the political climate changed in russia and some hard-liners came back into kgb now, and said what are you
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doing? i'm doing what you contracted me to do to write this history. no, you're not and if you try and continue with this, we're going to hurt you. so he takes -- he's been a kgb guy for a long time. he takes this seriously. and so he moves out to england and eventually arranges for his files to be smuggled out to him. and now they're over in the library of congress. his -- the notes. we can all go over there and see them. so the next thing i did -- the documentation is probably et smear . ernest hemingway. maybe they defector that they didn't like for some reason, but hard to believe that anybody in the 1990s was saying, hey, we need to go after hemingway and blacken his name. i think this was a by-product of another kind of operation. anyway, so then i looked at
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golos. i wondered did he get it right? did he report what happened accurately? he would not be oicer who had gone to a meeting, spoken in very general terms to somebody he had met a few times and then went back to the embassy and said, hey, i just recruited jones. he said he will do anything i ask of him. and then they send the cable off to their headquarters. so i wondered was golos this kind of guy who would have exaggerated his accomplishment? and the answer i came up with was probably not. golos was a really interesting guy. he was an old bolshevik. in the early 1900s he's an illegal actor for the bolsheviks in russia. he gets captured by the czarist police. they exile him to siberia. he escapes by going east.
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this is a pretty tough thing to do, and he eventually winds up in the united states in new york, and eventually becomes an american citizen. golos -- so the russians, world war i happens, the bolsheviks take over russia, the soviet intel starts going and they start communist party here and there and around the world and including here in the united states. he's also what we could call a support asset for the kgb. they have stations in new york, washington and san francisco around this time. so '30s and '40s. they ask for referrals. do you know anybody who could help us with this kind of information or that kind of information? do you know anybody who would get us real american passports? he's actually pretty good at that. that's his specialty for a while. getting bona fide american pass
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importants. then, even though he's not a trained intelligence officer he gets better and better at what he's doing. he knows the american target better than almost anybody in the kgb and the kgb has real problems around this time. because stalin keeps calling -- anybody gets to be too good at his job he gets called back to russia and shot. golos gets called back at one point, but he can't go because he's in trouble with the fbi. they have told him he can't travel. so he cables back to moscow, he said i'm really sorry i can't come, because the fbi -- i'll be on their -- i'm already on their black list, but i'll be on a blacker list if i try to leave the country, i think i'm doing good stuff here. he's kind of the senior guy on the american scene for periods of time. and he is enormously productive. he is one of the main guys in project enormous which ngismeri
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secrets. so, you know, if you were an intel officer, you can imagine. this is his efficiency report bullet. stole atomic secrets, changed world history. i mean, this is a long ball ernest hemingway to pad out his resume. so i concluded that it was not likely that golos got it wrong, that, you know, he probably did have the meeting with ernest. we don't have ernest's side. let me be clear about that. we only have one source, but it's not likely he got it wrong or needed to exaggerate it for any reason. so how can you explain this? so why would ernest say yes to the kgb especially in january of 1941 when the soviet union doesn't really look too good to most people on the left. that's the period at which hitler and stalin are in bed together. what the explanation that i came up with is pretty much three
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words and it's the spanish civil war. in the mid '30s. this was a really passionate cause for many people, something like the vietnam war. in this country. you were either for it or against it. there wasn't much in between, and ernest went to spain three times as a correspondent and he saw this as one of the defining struggles of his time. it was conservatism, religious, fascism on the one hand. it was the forces of democracy, freedom, progress on the other hand. the way this develops in the spanish civil war, there's on only -- the fascists are being supported. so it's franco, franco and his guys. and they are being supported by the germans and the italians who
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are pouring in troops, ammunition, what not. a lot of crucial help that enables them to progress. and nobody at first is really willing to help the republic. the democracies are going oh, i don't know if we want to get involved in this. britain, france, the united states, for various reasons are not comfortable with being heavily involved in spain. there is one country that is. and that's the soviet union. and very complicated set of reasons why the soviets would want to do this. that's a whole other talk. but anyway, they're there. they send troops -- they send advisers more than troops. they send munitions. and they send an enormous kgb contingent. they help organize and train the various international brigades. this effort really impresses
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ernest in spain. he decides -- and he says this a few times, you can also find it in "for whom the bell tolls." he said the only way to win this war is by accepting communist or soviet discipline. he doesn't necessarily say he believes in communism or soviet russia, but he believes that the discipline that they imposed in spain was the only chance to win that war. now, ernest is wearing blinders when he is saying this because as time goes on, the spanish civil war, the soviets and the kgb are undermining the republic they're there to help. they steal all of the gold. they say, you know, give it to us for safekeeping. and we'll take the part we need to pay for the arms that we're sending you, but they take it all. and stalin has a party when it gets to -- when it gets to
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russia on ships going through the mediterranean to odessa. he has a wild party. hey, if they think they're ever getting this back, they're wrong. anyway, it's probably still there. so ernest doesn't really focus on any of this stuff. he senses some of it. he thinks it's excesses by individuals, but he doesn't see any systemic problems and he still believes in the soviet or communist discipline. so what did they want from him? why would the kgb come to ernest? what do you get by having ernest as your agent? they looked at him as a journalist and for them journalists were useful for a number of things. they could do press placements. they could write an article that slanted to your point of view. they could be principal agents so they can run a bunch of sub agents and that would be a safe way to get information from
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lower level services, funneled through the journalists and then turned over to the kgb case officer. they could spot new contacts. ernest few people from president roosevelt down to the barmen and the maids and the prostitutes in havana. so he had a lot of people who would come to his house, have a few drinks and say interesting things. so those are the reasons why we can speculate. it's not entirely clear from the file summary what they wanted from him. but before they could get anything from ernest, they had to get to the next meeting. you remember he got the material recognition signal. the problem was he didn't use it. and the case file that we have shows that an enormous amount of frustration on the part of the kgb. ernest is not a reliable agent. what do you want from a secret agent? you want him to show up on time and give you the information. well, they can't get ernest to
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meetings. in the course of their relationship, they have looks like fer meetings. they have two in 1943 in cuba. they have one in london. 1944. he was a hard guy to hook up with in london, he wasn't there very long. you know, how did they find him, how did they get somebody in to him? you know, some kgb guy did homework and really should have gotten a promotion. then they have another meeting or two with him in havana in 1945. every time they meet, ernest says, yeah, sure, i'll do what then nothing happens. the file shows no concrete results. ernest doesn't produce for them. why, again, the subject of a whole other talk. contact is ultimately dropped on both sides. so what do we have at the end of the day here? looking at ernest hemingway in
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world war ii. j. edgar hoover was aware of this. the fbi and hoofer -- and hoover as you might have gathered by now were not natural friends. and hoover said, you know, ernest is just the wrong guy. he heard about what was going on in cuba and he wrote -- he says i cannot think of anybody who is more ill-suited toward this kind of work than ernest hemingway. you know, then he wrote down a couple of reasons during judgment, politics and what not. by the way, the fbi kept an eye on him for his whole life. even when he was in mayo clinic before he died. this is one thing that the fbi and the oss could have agreed on. they both looked at hemingway and they came to theshouldn't h of our organization. kgb does have one memo in
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washington, got a lot of oss memos. they have some fbi memos, but they didn't get this. a whole l out of earnest in the intel business in world war ii. earnest as i say, it's something he wanted to do. it's something he devoted a lot of energy to. but it may have been a dramatic story, but it didn't have dramatic results. there just wasn't a lot of product at the end of the day, only a story that i really like to tell. so that's about it. thank you very much. [ applause ] >> if anyone has questions -- >> happy to take questions. >> we have one right over here. >> i would like to did
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hemmingway kill himself? >> that's long and complicated. i think it's the long-term effects of drinking. he was probably an alcoholic physiological physiologically, probably even by this time hemmingway's productivity as a great author falls off dramatically, you know, the last great book he writes is "for whom the bell tolls." then he writes "old man and the sea." that's really the last home run he writes. everything else is falling off. he's deteriorating physically. i think it's a cascading effect from the alcohol. he's suspicious. he's irrasible. maybe he has some other
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conditions. i think he was -- i don't know. i hesitate to advance a diagnosis, bu -- mentally unsta. that played a role in him shooting himself, i believe. also, his father shot himself. earnest h ernest had a lot of trouble with his mom, never really liked his mom. after dad shot himself, ernest is kind of upset about that, mom for christmas one year sends him the pistol that dad shot himself with. so, you know, it's a sad story. it's one of those family lore things that works out that ends badly for ernest. >> i know that the picture in the brochure with hemmingway, it
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is general lem, charles t. kno he was assigned to general lem. now, as they pushed to paris, was the -- was general -- involved in covert work? >> not that i know of. so the way i reconstruct it is, in the july/august -- sorry, first part of august 1944 ernest is with lantemand his troops. la lantemis not directly on the push to paris. so ernest says, i've got to go looking for the main story. i'll come back later, and he does come back later. those are the groups -- what was it, the 22nd infantry regiment, that's the group he goes back to after the fall of paris off and on until he goes back to cuba.
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yes, sir? >> please wait for the mike. sorry. >> you said his son asked to go to asia. did his son actually go to asia? >> no. the war didn't last long enough. you know, it's a fascinating family history. bumbee also -- bumbee -- everybody lives in ernest's shadow, especially his sons, and little brother. bumbee has trouble finding himself in life. ette's in a he's in and out of army. he serves in uniform for a number of years. then he tries various careers, stockbroker, professional fisherman, whatnot. what he does do, he marries a wonderful woman named puck wi widdles way and they have two
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daughters, one sadly committed suicide. erne ernest's brother lester also commits suicide. again, it's a sad family history that comes out. can i ask you all a question? anybody else got any ideas of why ernest would sign up with the kgb? is that stunning to you ? how would you break it down? yes, sir? [ inaudible ] the question was, did he imagine he could be a double or triple agent? that would be a great adventure. i've thought of that, and it's possible. you know, it's an intriguing theory. if i could find that ernest had tried to work his way into
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places where he would get better access, you know, it's something worth pursuing there's till a lot out there. it's a great story that hasn't totally been told. there's a lot of places i want to go and look for stuff, and that's something i'm going to consider. >> how complete are the oss files? are there any things still secret? >> they'rre's a handful of thin to my knowledge, that are still secret. i've encountered one or two things that say file's been pulled. they're probably in the personnel files so it would be something to do with somebody who may be still alive. there's still at least a handful of oss veterans still with us. but, by and large, you know, there's this whole treasure trove of documents out there and what makes it interesting is the finding aids are incomplete. so you go out there looking for
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hemmingway, and you'll only find him in two or three finding aids. then you've got to search -- you wind up searching in things that might have hemmingway in them. and on a really great day you find a nugget that you bring home and brag about at dinner. >> nicholas reynolds, thank you so much. [ applause ] that was great. >> thank you all so much for coming. have a great day. in the fall of 2011, american history tv visited old
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sturbridge vifl village, massachusetts, a living history museum that it depicts early new england life from 1790 to 1840. on american artifacts we hear from costume historians who present what it was like to live and work in 19th century new england. curator thomas kellerer serves as our gooid guide. >> old sturbridge village is not some little town caught in a time warp or anything. it's a recreation -creation re- life when society was transforming from the old order to the modern world we live in today. we're showing you the decade of the 1830s. so the american revolution was a couple generations ago. it's as far away from them as world war ii is to us. the civil war is still a generation of the future. there's also rumblings about slavery, but they don't know what is going to happen in 20 or 30 years so that's the time frame to keep in mind, 1838,
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push come to shove, that's our default year. the population of the united states is probably around 17 million or so people. of course they do a census every ten years so we don't quite know yet. but it's probably about that. it was 13.5 million back in 1830. so it's a time when the railroad is coming in, our county seat of worcester is connected to our state capital of boston by a steam railroad in 1835. they start making transatlantic team ship service from england to boston in 1838. not as old-fashioned as some people might think, but the telegraph is patented in 1837 so just to give you some kind of things to hang your hat on. the industrial revolution is well under way so a lot of the cloth that we're wearing is factory made, still sewn by ladies at home, but made in the textile mills of new england. there's over 700 of those. but most people are still living on farms, following aglt
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